Starting Here

I have six one month old chickens.

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I love them.  They are like therapy animals for me.  I know.  I’m weird.  I’m okay with it.

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I took them outside for the very first time the other day.  They huddled together, moved in a cluster, hid under a bush…but eventually began to scratch and peck and explore.

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It came time to bring them back in.  Time to go home to their brooder.

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I called them by saying:  “Chick-chick-chick-chick” which is what I always do when I feed them.  I’ve been saying this to them since they first arrived so that they will know my voice and know that good things come with my voice.

They amazed me by coming to me when I called them.

But they wouldn’t let me catch them.  As soon as my hands got close, they scooted away.

I called them again.  They came towards me…they ran off.

The shelter of the bush felt more secure to them than being held in my hands.

It took close to an hour to catch all six and return them to their nice safe brooder.

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The next morning…I sat and talked with a friend about my journey to figure out how to function in this fibromyalgia autoimmune stage of my life.

“I really think God is wanting to use it to slow me down.”  I said.  And as the day went on, I thought more and more about how I feel about slowing down.

I fight it.

I struggle against it.

I fear it.

I’m like my silly little chickens.  I come, hearing His voice, but shy away when it comes time to surrender and just be in His hands.

 

I fight and I struggle because I’m afraid.  I’m afraid of what slowing down will mean for my value and my worth in this life.  I’m afraid that if I slow down, I will miss out on life and experiences and that I will be forgotten and left behind.  I’m afraid that if I slow down…this disease will win and take over completely.  I’m afraid that if I slow down, I will be seen as weak, that I will BE weak.  I don’t want to be weak.

I’m afraid.

There it is.

know, I know, I KNOW…His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  And I know…I know…that through trials, He is near and He does not let it go to waste.  And I know that I must surrender to have breakthrough….And I know that my worth is not tied up in what I can do but in who I am in Him.  And I know that God will give me mercies enough to get through this.  And I know that sometimes He heals illnesses instantly and that sometimes it’s a process and that sometimes healing does not come until heaven.

But still.

Surrender is hard.

So that is where I am.  I’m a little chicken afraid to surrender to the Master’s hand. Afraid to trust those hands to take me to safety.  Afraid to settle in and just receive this season of rest.

I will start here though, ready to take the next step and go to the next place, the next season.  Begin to trust even though I’m afraid.

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He Sets the Lonely in Families

There are two things people say most often about adoption.

  1.  You can’t save them all.
  2. Do you really need another kid?

And I agree.  We can’t save them all.  And adopting one out of 154 million feels like a drop in the bucket.  But here is what I know.

It would only take 7% of the Christian population to solve the orphan/foster care crisis.  Only 7%.

Imagine if that 7% were empowered to bring these ones into their homes.  Imagine if the other 93% rallied around that 7%.

No, I can’t save them all.  But the body of Christ can.

And frankly, no.  I don’t need another kid.  (I sometimes wonder if I need the ones I have, hardy-har-har.)

This is not about me.  Or us.  Or our family.

This is about a child that God called us to rescue.  This is about a little girl who needs us. This is about giving God our yes.  This is the overflow of our redemption.  The overflow of how very loved we are.

This is about being a family for Sissy, not getting a kid for our family.  Our family already has a ton of kids.

From now until Easter, I’m going to share Reece’s Rainbow kids…I am asking you to pray over their profiles.  Give God your yes and see where it leads.  There are so many things that we can actively DO.

  1.  We can pray.
  2. We can give.
  3. We can show up for adoptive/foster families, helping with fundraising and meals and moral support.
  4. We can adopt.

This is Curtis

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Pray for Curtis today.  He is a person of eternal significance, created in the image of God.  Ask God what your part in these lonely ones’ lives is.

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My Beloved Speaks and Says to Me, Arise

Remember that time I almost died bringing Nora into the world?  Remember how she was super premature and all kind of terrifying things happened?

That was easier than adoption.

Adoption requires much.

You must first prove yourself to your home study agency.  You must then prove yourself to the country you’ve chosen.  You must then prove yourself to grant agencies.  Who also want tax documents for the past 75 years…at minimum.

Through it all, you have to hustle for funds because redemption is so, so costly.  Fundraisers, yard sales (I HATE yard sales), crafts, asking, asking, asking.  And it’s so beautiful to see your village rally, it’s so beautiful to see people come together to be part of a story of redemption.  But you wonder if they are sick to death of you asking…

Then you travel across the world to meet a child you would die for that you’ve never ever met.  You come with your heart in your hands and you savor the beauty of it all…and the heartbreak too.  Because with adoption comes so much loss.  You will take the child from the world she knows, from the only ones she knows…to a place that looks, sounds, smells and tastes different.  To a language she’s never heard, into a family that has spent a year preparing for her but that she is just not prepared for.

You do the hard work of figuring out just what her “moderate to severe special needs” look like, what it means.  You figure out what she needs.  You batten down the hatches and stay close…parenting in a new way, because what she needs is to know that she can trust you.  That she can let her guard down.  That there will be enough food, that she has a place.  That she is cherished.

God has done such a work in me through all of this.  I’ve had to lean hard into Him.  When fear threatened to steal my breath (and threatens to steal my breath), I lean hard.  When things look like they are unraveling or when issues arise or when it’s looking impossible…I just have to remember…

He called us to this.

He loves Sissy.  She is His.

And He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  He changes the hearts of kings.  He is One who finishes what He’s started.

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And so I will.  Arise.  Freeze my hand to the sword, just like Eleazar and fight the fight until Sissy is home safe and sound.

You can help.

Donate directly to our agency atPure Charity  This is an amazing way to help us out!  $20 donations also automatically enter you to win a housecleaning by my friend Mabel.

Donate to our FSP at Reece’s Rainbow.  These funds will cover travel expenses.

Donate to our fund at Go Fund Me.  This is where we raise money for ALL costs.  (The two above our tax deductible.

Any amount helps, from $1 to $1000.

Donate items you make, items you sell, services your provide or gently used items with tons of life left in them from your home.  We have a HUGE auction coming up and we need your participation!

Come to our bake sale Saturday morning.  We will have TONS of goodies to tempt your tastebuds!

Good Good Father

 

In church on Sunday, we sang this song that has been playing in my head on repeat ever since.

It’s “Good Good Father” by Housefires (or Chris Tomlin, if you’d rather).

https://www.youtube.com/embed/djrY_eFDOwE“>Good Good Father

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I am singing this all day today, over  my own heart…over my sweet husband, over all six of my beautiful babies and the two boyfriends in law…over my seventh baby in Eastern Europe; the one who has never known a father at all.

And I am realizing something for the millionth time as the words sink in deep.  (God is faithful to teach me the same lessons over and over…as often as I need them.)

He is Good.  Nothing can change that.  It’s who He is.  Yes, even when things are Extra Hard and Really Scary.  In the Big Life Things…He is perfect, loving, kind, and He is For Me.  He is For Sylvia.  He’s not a magic genie that makes life easy and makes it all okay…but He is For Me.  Perfect in all of His ways to us.

I am loved by Him.  Nothing can change that.  It’s who I am.  Yes, even when I struggle to hold onto that Truth.  Even when I don’t feel very lovely…even when I don’t feel loved by Him, I am loved by Him.  It’s Truth.  Even if I reject it…it’s still true.  It’s who I am.

Sylvia is loved by Him.  Nothing can change that.  It’s who she is.

And so I have newfound peace moving forward.  I’m eating this elephant one bite at a time…I’m freezing my hand to the sword.  He stands with me and I know that this is not my own battle that I fight, that this battle belongs to Him, the Good Father.

And when a Daughter asks a good, good Father for bread, He will not give her stones.

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Good Good Father by Housefires

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
but I’ve heard the tender whisper
of love in the dead of night
You tell me that you’re pleased
and that I’m never alone

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, It’s who you are,
It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, It’s who I am,
It’s who I am

I’ve seen many searching
for answers far and wide
But I know
we’re all searching for answers only you provide
Because you know
just what we need
before we say a word

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, It’s who you are,
It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, It’s who I am,
It’s who I am

You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us

Oh it’s Love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so Unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As you call me deeper still
as you call me deeper still
as you call me deeper still into love love love

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, It’s who you are,
It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, It’s who I am,
It’s who I am

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, It’s who you are,
It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, It’s who I am,
It’s who I am

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Eleazar and Me

On Monday, I basically had a nervous breakdown.

I just need to tell you, adoption is NOT for the faint of heart.

Things were very shaky on Monday and we were scared.  Really, really scared that we had failed miserably and the whole thing was going to fall apart.  More scared than people who belong to the Most High God really ought to be.

But we are just people.  And He knows that.  He knew who I was when the plan was made to spend eternity with me, He knew who I was when He died on the cross for me.

Monday scared me.  Because what if we failed her?  What if we did things wrong and we didn’t get to her?  What if we cost her a hope and a future?

We asked for prayer, we asked for good thoughts, we asked for advice.  We hustled with paperwork and phone calls and FedEx and emails to Eastern Europe, to Maryland, to Richmond.

Please Jesus…don’t let us get in the ways of your plans.

So many prayed and so many hustled along side of us and we figured out what will most likely be a solution- a letter that will give us one more month to get it all done.  Please Jesus, have mercy.

Other adoptive moms spoke into my ears and into my heart:

Keep wrestling til you see the blessing.

The Lord is fighting for you.  He is above, beside and behind.

You can do it.  Just keep swimming!

This IS scary, but if you look at all the warriors in scripture, they had NO time. They were NOT prepared. They had NOTHING to offer. Most of them even looked stupid. How many times did they march around Jericho…really?

Take a second to look back at your situation. Do you see God working? Do you see the enemy getting mad? Do you see the enemy’s plans of destruction? Gods plans CANNOT be thwarted!!

Do you believe God called you specifically to Sylvie?  Yes?  Then that’s the answer.  You keep going, you focus on THAT reality and not on the what ifs…They aren’t coming from you, they aren’t coming from God.

Here is what I know.  God is not surprised by this.  And He is not restricted by timelines or deadlines.  And when it all seems impossible, all the more probable that God has a miracle up His sleeve.

We are praying her home.

And then someone gave me an old Testament story from 2 Samuel 23.

 

9Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammimd for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. 

Yes.

Yes.  Freeze my hand to the sword, Lord as I fight.  The anxiety, the fear, it ebbed away and in its place was this surety that it wasn’t really up to me.  It might not turn out all right.  It might be more amazing than we can even imagine.  It’s going to go how it’s going to go and that has nothing to do with me.  I am not in control, but I will fight the fight that is before me and I will trust His will to be done.  I will trust God in this fight.

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So, I breathe again.  I dry my tears and seek the One who holds everything together.  I renounce fear, I ask for new mercies and they are freely given.

We ask for prayer and it is lavished on us, on Sylvie.

We ask for a solution and possibilities rise up.

We sleep and it seems less desperate the next morning.

“Redemption is costly,” says John and he is right.

Redemption is costly.  It is worthy.  But it is costly.

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The Eleventh Hour

We are so close to the end of the home study process.

We’ve gone through car problems, financial difficulty, illness after illness, dog problems, you name it.

When I start to feel discouraged…someone pops up and says something like this:

God never wants you to NOT rescue an orphan.

It’s always hardest right before a big breakthrough.

We were never sicker than we were the year we were going through the adoption process.  

We’ve seen things happen, miracles even…again and again.

We rallied around a little boy that needed a home, we prayed and we pleaded…and he found a family.  We never should’ve been able to get out of our lease and move to our forever home (that is literally PERFECT for us) but it happened…Things have happened as we’ve dug in our heels and refused to give up.

And we won’t give up now.

Please keep us in your prayers as we reach the paperwork finish line!  And if you feel led to give, no amount is too small. Every single dollar is valued and important to the process!  Thank you all so much!

 

But, Not Tonight

Okay, so it’s an emotional time of year anyway.  It’s the holidays…and we’re in the process of adopting which is hard and it’s a roller coaster and it’s so, so long.  And, my oldest kid is getting married.  FEELINGS LIKE WHOA.

And then I see on Facebook that Scott Weiland died.  And like a crazy person, I literally burst into tears.  Like, had to hold back the ugly cry tears.  As though he were someone in my real life.

And it’s not like I was an enormous fan of Velvet Revolver and certainly not of Stone Temple Pilots…but.

Scott Weiland once did a Depeche Mode cover that was on some weird movie soundtrack…honestly I don’t even remember…I don’t even like covers.

But when I began to come back to life after my divorce, I loved that song and I listened to it all the time.  The harmonies, the guitar, the textures of Weiland’s voice…It became my theme song.

It was a Monument to the turning of the tide.  

Thanks Scott Weiland.

Sometimes people have no idea the impact they have on others.  And there is no shame in crying real tears over a life lost….

But Not Tonight

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Oh God, it’s raining
But I’m not complaining
It’s filling me up
With new life

The stars in the sky
Bring tears to my eyes
They’re lighting my way
Tonight

And I haven’t felt so alive
In years

Just for a day
On a day like today
I’ll get away from
This constant debauchery

The wind in my hair
Makes me so aware
How good it is to live
Tonight

And I haven’t felt so alive
In years

The moon is shining in the sky
Reminding me
Of so many other nights
But they’re not like tonight

Oh God, it’s raining
And I’m not containing
My pleasure at being
So wet

Here on my own
All on my own
How good it feels to be alone
Tonight

And I haven’t felt so alive
In years

The moon is shining in the sky
Reminding me
Of so many other nights
When my eyes have been so red
I’ve been mistaken for dead

Not tonight
Not tonight
Not tonight

 

 

I Woke Up

This week, there were two anniversary days.

November 18th, the day our Nora was born.  A scrappy little 2 lb. 14 oz. fighter, bursting to life and changing the world.

November 19th, I woke up, after the doctors were sure I never would again.

And I’ve realized some things about those days.  You can read the whole story here and throughout many, many blog posts in 2012.

November 19th, I woke up.

When you come that close to death, your world view shifts.  Things change in your heart, paradigms you’ve always believed and trusted are shaken to the core.

I learned that life is so, so short.  I learned that every single life is precious.  As I held my tiny baby, smaller than half a bag of flour…I knew her life was precious.  And in my heart, something opened up.  Lives are so precious.

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I became more sensitive to news stories of human suffering.  Pictures of children struggling for life in orphanages began to seem urgent. I saw need everywhere.

I also figured out that I want an extraordinary life.  I don’t want the white picket fence and new cars and great clothes.  I like those things…but my life goals are simpler now…

Love God.

Love People.

I woke up to reality.  And every year, I am reminded of the lessons I learned.  You can read about it Here, 2013 and Here, 2014 or some more here 2014.

There is so much suffering in our world.  And I am still piecing together and puzzling out our place in the resolutions.

But I came away from my experiences in November of 2012 changed.  I woke up.  And I know I want to make an impact.  I am reminded anew every year on these days.

I want to make a difference.  Because I’m grateful, because this life is short, because every single person has value that can’t be measured.

Right now.

We are starting with one.  Just one.

Sylvia Grace.

Will you join us?

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She Did What She Could

This morning, I was feeling so discouraged…about so many things.

I felt the urging of the Lord…”Come to me, I have something to say to you.”

And so I opened up my She Reads Truth app and read the story of Mary of Bethany.

She was Lazarus’ sister…she was so upset about her brother’s death that she couldn’t even run out to meet Jesus. She was paralyzed with sorrow.  She could not even.  Have you been there?  When you can’t even rise up and face the thing that you know will bring comfort?

She was the same one who dumped out her bottle of oil and cleaned his feet with her hair and her tears.

I think maybe Mary of Bethany was a passionate woman of extremes.  I know someone like that.

It’s me.

In case you didn’t realize.

Some days, I just can’t even…and some days, I want to pour out all I am and all I have for Jesus and for the ones I love.  Some days…all I can really do is just take one step.  Maybe a half a step.  Maybe just a breath- Abba Father, I belong to you.

That was Mary.

There was a time when she was so discouraged and weary that all she could do was make that one step.  And then there was a time when she poured out all she had and subjected herself to ridicule and even rebuke for her all out, authentic, scandalous love for her Jesus.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you,[b] and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.

She did what she could.

she did what she could

What Mary could do was pour out her heart.  And when Mary’s brother died, all she could do was seek the comfort of Jesus.  And she could barely do that.

But she did what she could.

This struck me so hard.  Because I have these hard days where it seems that our problems, complications and issues are a wound tight ball of twine and there is no way to unravel it…where pain seeps into my bones and weariness covers me like a shroud.  There are days when I long for my little gal in Bulgaria to just get home already and when I feel like there is literally no way we are going to pull this thing off.

I can’t.  Some days, I just can’t.  I am too weak, too weary, too tired, too achy, too poor, too disorganized…too fill in the blank.  Too not enough…

I reach a feeble hand to Jesus and I do what I can.

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I write the words in my Bible.  I think about the poor widow her gave her one last coin.  mark-12-44

She did what she could.

Lord, help me live that way.  Help me live, doing what I can…which some days will be so much and some days be so little.  He sees me heart and He knows when I have done what I can and when I haven’t.

And the best part…in my weakness, He is so strong.

After Lazarus had died, after four days in the tomb…he met Mary and her friends and saw their grief.  He was that they were weeping and filled with sorrow.

Matthew 11:33 says this:  “he was deeply moved in His spirit and troubled.”

Was he troubled that Lazarus died?  Presumably not…He knew then as he knows now that he is the author of life.  He could easily and would easily raise Lazarus from death. I think He was moved that his loved ones were hurting and grieving.  He was feeling their pain with them and He was standing with them in it.  Sharing strength.

This is how Jesus is.  He does not promise to make everything okay…but He does  promise to not leave us alone to handle it ourselves.  Sometimes, what we can is feeble and so small…but what he can…it is always enough.